SHANGHAI KNIGHTS - Q&A with JACKIE CHAN & OWEN WILSON
Does it get harder to create newer and funnier stunts for your films?
JACKIE CHAN: Yes and I'd like to thank the producers and director for giving me the time to get the stunts right. With this movie they said "Jackie do it". If I needed three more days they said "ok, take three more days". If I need more budget - I get it. This way it gives me a lot of freedom to do whatever I wanted to do.
OWEN WILSON: Also I remember Jackie saying that there had been a movie where they wanted Jackie to do the bellboy where he felt he had done that stuff before. So you do start to run out of ideas and that's why he liked a movie like this, which, because it takes place in turn-of-the-century-London means that there are lots of new props for Jackie to use.
Is there an element of risk involved when you use bottles as props in SHANGHAI KNIGHTS?
OWEN WILSON: They are fake bottles.
JACKIE CHAN: I just look around and anything that's there I see if I can use it. Every time I have a problem on a set I start thinking and a new idea comes up. The big problem for me is that the next film AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS is late 19th century again. I will use a penny-farthing bicycle in that. I am always thinking about what I can use in the scenes.
In SHANGHAI KNIGHTS we discover that your forte is for underwater stunts. Tell us about that?
OWEN WILSON: I grew up near the ocean and I am pretty comfortable in water. Even though I don't think of myself as very great at the action stuff I would give myself credit for that one scene in which I felt I was a little stronger than Jackie. For some reason I was more comfortable than Jackie.
JACKLIE CHAN: I am not good with water. I am scared of water. It makes me uncomfortable, I don't know why. That was when we had three days of very difficult scenes. We were hanging upside down and it was really tough. I would throw up. You would get a headache.
Do you ever wonder or worry about whether Jackie is going to make it through a movie?
OWEN WILSON: I don't worry that much about Jackie making it through, he has made it this far. I know that when Jackie did the barge scene, that took two weeks and I went back to Los Angeles and when he did the revolving doors I went to Amsterdam. So I look forward to the stunts being as elaborate and drawn-out as possible because it gives me a chance to catch my breath.
JACKIE CHAN: I remember when I was doing the market fight for six days, suddenly Owen showed up, "Hi Jackie!" I told him not to go away because I had a shot for him. Then he did a shot with a punch where he caught the hand.
OWEN WILSON: That's why I stopped visiting the set.
The 'Singing In The Rain' parody is great, would you be interested in doing a musical?
JACKIE CHAN: Yes I'd like to do a musical, but I don't have the confidence. To do musical stuff for a few minutes is ok. To do a whole movie that was a musical? No I don't think so. I'm a pretty good singer, but I'm not that good. But I like the idea of doing musical scenes in an action/comedy.
OWEN WILSON: Probably not. I'm not very musical. I can't sing and I can't dance.
You have said your Hollywood movies are safer than the ones you did in Hong Kong. But do you still get injuries?
JACKIE CHAN: I have a lot of injuries in every movie. But for me when I don't have to go to the hospital then it's not really an injury. Why I said the Hollywood movies are more safe is because before I come on to the set there is a stunt co-ordinator who makes sure about everything. There is more safety.
OWEN WILSON: I think the out-takes are pretty revealing because you usually see Jackie getting hurt or something going awry. It's hard.
JACKIE CHAN: Once when we were doing a scene, Owen says "Jackie do you think this is safe?" And I said yes. Then Owen says "It's just a tiny wire, do you think it could break?" And I said "no". Then I told him to stop talking because he just keeps asking all sorts of questions that made me scared!
Is there a chance of you two doing a third movie in the series?
OWEN WILSON: They are talking about SHANGHAI DAWN and maybe going to Egypt. It does seem like a Hope/Crosby thing where you can put these characters in different situations. We have talked with the writers about SHANGHAI DAWN but they have not started writing yet.
JACKIE CHAN: These films are fun and maybe the next one will be in Egypt and then South Africa.
Do you suggest things for the script?
OWEN WILSON: Jackie and I meet with the writers and director and have suggestions. People talk about how these films are different from the films I wrote with Wes Anderson but I think that in important ways there are similarities. I know that Jackie's character has a real sense of innocence and that the comedy isn't mean spirited or cruel. I would say that is also in the TENENBAUMS and RUSHMORE. I know that Wes likes these movies too.
OWEN WILSON: Next for Jackie is AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS and my brother Luke and I might do cameos in that -maybe as the Wright Brothers. I think there are going to be lots of cameos. Then I'm going to do STARSKY AND HUTCH with Ben Stiller.
JACKIE CHAN: I'm going to Thailand to start filming AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS. We rehearse for two days in Bangkok and there is four days shooting after that. Then we go to Berlin, London and around the world. For me the travelling is fun.
You seem to have lots of fun in your films?
JACKIE CHAN: I go to different countries and see different people and somebody pays me! I have fun on the set. Of course sometimes you get angry but most of the time it's happy. All the travelling and different food. I have just spent a few days in Berlin and then Los Angeles and now London and now I'm going to be in Hong Kong tomorrow and then Thailand. Every day there is something new.
In SHANGHAI KNIGHTS Britain means bad weather and bad teeth. What about Britain surprised you when you first came here?
OWEN WILSON: I was always a big Winston Churchill fan so it was fun for me to go to his bunker and the War Room and hear the tapes of his addresses during World War II. I don't know why Churchill? But in RUSHMORE we had a big portrait of Churchill behind the headmaster. He was half American.
JACKIE CHAN: First time I came here I found the weather was really sticky. Maybe I came at the wrong time. Then I noticed that British people were more serious. I love British culture and collect antique cups and saucers and women's small things like bracelets. If you saw my office you'd be surprised at how many of these women's things I have collected. Even women's umbrellas. The handles are so beautiful. Sometimes silver or ivory. I collect these kinds of things.
Are your movies an opportunity to pay tribute to movie heroes like Harold Lloyd and Douglas Fairbanks?
JACKIE CHAN: I think it is coincidence. I did the clock tower stunt a long time ago in Project A. When I picked up the umbrella somehow I started thinking of the tune for 'Singing In The Rain'. I just like the action to have humour and be for the family.
You lose fights in SHANGHAI KNIGHTS. Isn't Jackie Chan meant to be unbeatable?
JACKIE CHAN: Look at my Hong Kong films and I am not always the hero. If I can't beat someone the audience wonders what is going to happen and that can help the comedy.
You will work with Steve Coogan on AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS. Have you seen his work?
JACKIE CHAN: I saw him in a film. My fan club on the internet said it would be good. I don't really know him but I trust the producers.
Is there a time when you will stop doing action movies?
JACKIE CHAN: In the next couple of years I have been trying to change my career a bit with movies like THE TUXEDO and HIGHBINDERS and now SHANGHAI KNIGHTS. After AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS I will do TITANIUM RING and then a period drama. I want to be an actor, I want to be a Robert De Niro, a pure actor. I have been in the film industry for 30 years and I'm becoming a miracle because I'm still doing action/comedy.
Don't you think you could write a part for him?
OWEN WILSON: Just his book 'I Am Jackie Chan' would be a good movie with all that stuff that happened to him as a kid. I know from acting with Jackie that aside from the fight scenes that we do that it is good to play straight scenes off Jackie.
It's been said you are afraid to be romantic in your movies, especially with non-Asian women?
JACKIE CHAN: Not any more. In the beginning, yes. Long time ago 20 years ago as soon as I had a girlfriend a girl jumped on to the subway to commit suicide, another girl in front of my office took poison. Asian culture is different from American culture. In America it's divorce, get married divorce, get married. It doesn't matter. But in Asia it is a big problem. This is why in my movies I don't have a kissing scene. If I have a kissing scene the girls cry and howl in the theatre in Asia. In a Jackie Chan movie I could have a girlfriend but never kiss. But now, slowly, slowly it is ok because all the fans are growing up and bringing their children to see my movies. Now in my movies I can have a love scene but the studio is still careful. I have had a big kissing scene with Claire Forlani in HIGHBINDERS I was shy but she just grabbed me and said "come on" and kissed me. During rehearsal she said for me to touch her, she didn't care. She really made me comfortable.